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ISSB Standards - Bring Them On! Fast!

On 26 June 2023, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) published its first sustainability-related disclosure standards. The publication of the Standards, known as IFRS S1 and IFRS S2, are intended to present a reliable framework for the provision of sustainability information to capital markets. They are Super Important. Why? Because they will effectively hold big business accountable for their environmental credentials to: 1. the people of the world and 2. capital markets They will be the new guide that equity markets across the world globe use, from now on, to determine which corporations are good, and which ones are bad, at protecting the environment. This initiative was announced at COP 27 in Glasgow in 2022. At the time, it was touted that its world wide implementation, within the next year or so, has the potential to direct US$34 trillion in non- government investment around the world in the right directions - with potentially HUGE benefits for all our grandchildren. So, the adoption or not by all countries of the ISSB Standards, NOW, should be taken seriously. What do the Standards require? IFRS S1 General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information, relates to the reporting of all sustainability-related risk and opportunities. It requires the disclosure of information about the governance processes, strategies and monitoring and assessment activities in place to manage and oversee those risks and opportunities. It also requires information regarding the entity’s performance in respect of sustainability metrics, and specifically the progress that has been made towards meeting any legal or regulatory sustainability-related targets. IFRS S2 Climate-related Disclosures requires entities to disclose information about its climate-related risks and opportunities and the governance processes, strategies and monitoring and assessment activities in place to manage and oversee them. The information will relate to both physical climate-related risks, such as extreme weather events, as well as transitional risks, such as the impact of the increased regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. IFRS S2 also provides guidance as to how entities should take account of the impact of climate-related factors on their own valuation. Together, the Standards are designed to provide a comprehensive and consistent assessment of an entity’s current and future sustainability and climate-related risks and opportunities throughout its entire value chain. This should allow market participants to make fully informed decisions on investments, with the ISSB hoping that the Standards will become the “common language” for assessing those risks and opportunities. Are they being implemented? Not yet. Most governments are discussing them and some have implemented them or made them voluntary. No doubt there are many big corporations lobbying their governments to stall or bypass this new system. This idea is that mainstream media should spread information about the implementation or not of the ISSB a lot more than they do. That way, people will know about them, and public pressure could be ramped up on national governments around the world to each implement the ISSB standards in full. Doing this could actually save civilization as we know it.
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